Front Porch Blog

Rep. Gloria Johnson Stands Up for Tennessee

TN State Rep. Gloria Johnson, Delivered this Powerful Address for our Mountains

Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville), gave the following remarks regarding the Scenic Vistas Protection Act to the House Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources on Wednesday, March 20. Representative Johnson, despite being a freshman legislator in the minority, showed a tremendous amount of courage, even standing up to a hostile line of question from western Tennessean Andy Holt (R-Dresden). Representative Johnson highlighted the fact that people from across the ideological spectrum were coming together in support of protecting our mountains.

Over the last three decades, while the portion of our coal that comes from surface mining has grown, we have watched our mining jobs plummet and our miners be replaced by machines. Over this same period, Tennesseans from all walks of life, Republicans and Democrats, hunters and fishermen, conservatives and liberals, and people from all religious backgrounds have come together in support of this legislation – the Scenic Vistas Protection Act, and one of our greatest assets – our mountains. – Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville)

Watch the speech in full:

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Text below, as prepared…

Many of us are privileged to represent the beautiful, proud, and profitable mountains of Tennessee. These mountains are the oldest on the continent, and help drive a tourism industry that brings in more than $15 billion dollars to our state every year. Not only that, but they bring joy and peace of mind for millions of Tennesseans and our visitors.

The Senate killed this bill earlier this morning, but I wanted to speak on behalf of those who have prayed, called, and gathered here from all around the state. I think there is a lot of passion in the state for our mountains, and a lot of agreement in this room. We all want to protect our homes, our livliehoods, and create a better future for our mountain communities. Tennessee should be a leader in protecting our mountain way of life, not for sale to the highest bidder. What symbolizes our state more than our mountains? The mountains that were crossed by Davey Crockett, Daniel Boone, and Jack Daniel…

Over the last three decades, while the portion of our coal that comes from surface mining has grown, we have watched our mining jobs plummet and our miners be replaced by machines. Over this same period, Tennesseans from all walks of life, Republicans and Democrats, hunters and fishermen, conservatives and liberals, and people from all religious backgrounds have come together in support of this legislation – the Scenic Vistas Protection Act, and one of our greatest assets – our mountains.

Since it was first introduced, this bill has twice been sent to “Summer Studies” that have never occurred, including last year, despite the pleas, prayers, and phone calls of 1000s of our brave citizens. As reported in today’s Wall Street Journal, Tennessee has also become the first state in America to permit a Chinese company to blast apart our mountains and take our coal. Not only are the eyes of Tennessee on us, but the world is watching.

The health impacts of this type of mining have been documented in nearly two dozen peer-reviewed studies, showing higher rates of cancer, heart and lung disease, and the fact that unborn children in these communities are 42% more likely to be born with birth defects. This is a problem that we need to work together to address.

For half a decade, our state legislature has chosen not to address this issue. Over that time, more of our proud mountains have been destroyed, leaving us with fewer jobs, poisoned water, and a bleak economic future. Ladies and gentleman, I won’t stand for it.

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, this is an important issue for my constituents, for 1000s of Tennesseans who have acted in support of this bill, and for the millions of Tennesseans and visitors who take pride in our mountains. I look forward to working with you on this issue in the future, because I believe that our mountains and our mountain way of life is worth protecting.

TAGS:

PREVIOUS

NEXT

AV Mountain border tan1

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment